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BENEFIT Builds National eKYC Solution on AWS in 8 Weeks

2021

The BENEFIT Company (BENEFIT) configured and established the server design and architecture for its Electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC) project in 2 weeks guided by AWS Professional Services. The eKYC service provides a state-of-the-art online service and database for financial institutions to authenticate clients’ identities and validate their information before granting financial services. With a mission to help financial institutions move forward with digital transformations, BENEFIT began the project with approximately 30 banks and completed the implementation phase in 8 weeks, seamlessly scaling services for all retail bank consumers of the eKYC solution. Since the launch, there has been a large expansion of the online and digital services deployed by financial institutions, which can now manage and process eKYC solutions in a simpler and more cost-effective way.

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Guided by the AWS Professional Services team, this project went live in just 2 weeks.”

Hessa Hussain
Assistant general manager, the BENEFIT Company

BENEFIT was established in November 1997 by 17 commercial banks as the national automated teller machine (ATM) and point-of-sale switch of Bahrain. It was initially licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) to be “the provider of ancillary services for the financial sector” and soon expanded to cover markets outside Bahrain. The company’s mandate was very simple: to improve, enhance, and enable the local and regional financial industry to thrive on a global scale.

BENEFIT’s range of services—supported by the Gulf Corporation Council Network (GCCNet) in countries within the region—include ATM operations, point of sale, the GCCNet Dispute Management System, Bahrain Credit Reference Bureau, electronic funds transfer system, Telecom Bill Payment, Payment Gateway, Bahrain Cheque Truncation System, eKYC, and BenefitPay, which serves as a national e-wallet across Bahrain.

The CBB commissioned BENEFIT to work with banks on a new nationwide eKYC project—the first of its kind in the Arab world. The eKYC project targets retail banks, financial services providers, money-exchange networks, and insurance bodies. The project arose from a specific challenge among these institutions: onboard clients who want to access online banking and financial services.

To meet a publicly announced deadline directive, the company needed to work quickly while collaborating with the Bahrain Information & eGovernment Authority (iGA) under the supervision of the CBB. BENEFIT had been using a legacy data center, so to address this project challenge, it turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AWS Professional Services, a global team of experts that can help businesses realize desired business outcomes on AWS. “We were looking for a reliable provider to help us with this key national project,” says Hessa Hussain, assistant general manager at BENEFIT. “I was very pleased with the way the AWS team transferred its knowledge to our engineers and system administrators within a short time frame. The work was very intense.”

Achieving Speed and Scalability on the Cloud

BENEFIT’s main mission—to enable financial institutions to move forward with their digital banking services—includes helping these institutions meet digital security requirements, such as identity verification. After a 2-year process of interviewing its main stakeholders, BENEFIT discovered that many financial institutions struggled with onboarding new customers and authenticating their identities. The eKYC project was intended to provide a state-of-the-art online system and a database for financial institutions to authenticate their clients’ identities. “The process for authenticating and knowing who is behind digital screens or mobile apps is very expensive,” says Hussain. “It’s costly for a financial institution to overcome regulatory requirements when it comes to KYC and anti–money laundering.”

BENEFIT had relied on its legacy data center before engaging AWS. One of BENEFIT’s eKYC project partners, iGA, had already begun migrating its own services to AWS, and BENEFIT determined that migrating to the cloud would be beneficial for its own purposes as well. “Within the time frame of the project, it would have been almost impossible to go the traditional way of ordering, setting up, and operating servers,” says Hussain. “We believed that AWS would give us the flexibility and the freedom to set up and expand as needed.”

Guided by the AWS team, BENEFIT configured and established the entire infrastructure and architecture of the eKYC solution within 2 weeks. It was a complex task. The solution involved integrations with various entities, including the iGA and Bahrain’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism. BENEFIT also innovated blockchain nodes in the cloud and built an API using Amazon API Gateway—a fully managed service that makes it simple for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs at any scale—to enable financial institutions to integrate with the eKYC solution.

Security is of paramount importance to the service, and BENEFIT can address those considerations, along with regulatory compliance, by using the capabilities built into AWS services. Naturally, clients must also keep their data secure by using strong passwords and not sharing personal identification numbers. “I’m no longer worried about addressing any vulnerability that could occur when the security manager comes and analyzes the system,” says Hussain. “I trust the data is being encrypted, and I can get multiple international security services on AWS.”

BENEFIT built the eKYC solution on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), which provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. BENEFIT kicked off the project with approximately 30 financial institutions, and in 8 weeks, it had completed the implementation phase in a fully automated manner. For the implementation phase, it used AWS CloudFormation, which provides a simple way to model, provision, and manage a collection of related AWS and third-party resources by treating infrastructure as code. As transactions grew, BENEFIT seamlessly scaled its services for all retail bank consumers of the eKYC solution. “AWS provided the assistance and flexibility necessary to set up an environment whenever we need it,” says Hussain. “When it comes to time, resources, capabilities, or flexibility, we just request the services to scale on demand whenever it’s required.”

Innovating and Scaling Rapidly While Maintaining Reliability

BENEFIT plans to continue the eKYC project and expand its integration to include about 200 financial institutions. Part of the project involves regularly upgrading BENEFIT’s services by using the newfound expertise its administrators and engineers gained from the AWS Professional Services team, which provided technical leadership, assisted in aligning vendors and customer teams, and adhered to a feasible delivery timeline. “Guided by the AWS Professional Services team, this project went live in just 2 weeks,” says Hussain.

Only 18 months after the launch of the eKYC solution, BENEFIT saw a boom in online and digital services being deployed by the banks and financial institutions. Before the launch, developing new digital services would have been challenging, but these institutions have been able to manage and process eKYC solutions in a simpler and more cost-effective manner. “The eKYC project enabled a digital transformation in the industry,” says Hussain.

For BENEFIT, the project has been a resounding success, especially given the time constraints and complex technical challenges the company faced, coupled with strict government security protocols regarding anti–money laundering and data encryption. “Now when we analyze any potential new projects that will need to be operational at an international level, a cloud-based solution is always top of mind,” says Hussain. “Making decisions, enabling key services, and expanding those services—AWS makes these processes much, much faster.”


About the BENEFIT Company

Established in 1997, the BENEFIT Company is the local ATM switch in Bahrain. An innovator in financial technology and electronic financial transaction services, it enables financial institutions nationwide to successfully transform their online services for customers.

Benefits of AWS

  • Configured the infrastructure and architecture for a complex eKYC solution in 2 weeks
  • Implemented its eKYC solution in 8 weeks
  • Scaled services for all retail bank consumers of the eKYC solution
  • Enabled faster and more secure online service development for financial institutions

AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2

Amazon EC2 is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.

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AWS Professional Services

AWS Professional Services’ offerings use a unique methodology based on Amazon’s internal best practices to help you complete projects faster and more reliably, while accounting for evolving expectations and dynamic team structures along the way.

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Amazon API Gateway

Amazon API Gateway is a fully managed service that makes it easy for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs at any scale.

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Cloud​Formation

CloudFormation provides a common language for you to describe and provision all the infrastructure resources in your cloud environment.

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